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N1987Y accident description

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Tail numberN1987Y
Accident dateApril 17, 1999
Aircraft typeMooney M20E
LocationBrooksville, KY
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On April 17, 1999, about 1730 Eastern Daylight Time, a Mooney M20E, N1987Y, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a road near Brooksville, Kentucky. The certificated commercial pilot survived the landing without apparent injury, but collapsed and died shortly thereafter. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed for the flight from Marshall County Airport (74D), Moundsville, West Virginia, to Bowman Field (LOU), Louisville, Kentucky. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, a witness, who was also a pilot, stated that the accident pilot had purchased the airplane on the day of the accident. The two pilots arrived at the airport between 1330 and 1400, and the accident pilot had 45 gallons of fuel added to the airplane. During the preflight, he had difficulty in removing the left wing-tank fuel cap, which appeared to be of a different type than right wing-tank fuel cap. He took four samples of fuel from the left tank before it was free of water. No water or discoloration was found in the fuel samples taken from the right tank

The airplane first took off about 1500. However, on climbout, the engine starting running rough, so the pilot returned to the airfield. Once on the ground, the engine smoothed out, and the pilot took off again, around 1525. With the witness's airplane in trail, the two flew across Ohio, stopping once to secure a fastener on the accident airplane. Approaching the Kentucky border, the accident pilot radioed to the witness that his fuel pressure was going down to zero, that he had a rough running engine, and that he was going to make a precautionary landing on a road. The witness suggested selecting the other fuel tank, and the pilot replied that he would. The witness was not aware of which fuel tank was being used when the engine started running rough. He also noted that the engine never completely quit, but that the pilot could not maintain altitude with the power that was being produced.

Several witnesses on the ground reported that during the airplane's approach to the road, it hit a transmission line and a horse trailer. The airplane then landed hard on the pavement, and "sparks were flying," before it came to a stop. After deplaning, the pilot talked to a number of people, then borrowed a cellular telephone to make a call. As soon as he completed the call, about 15 minutes after the accident, he said he felt cold and faint. He then collapsed and could not be revived.

Inspection of the accident site revealed three parallel gouge marks in the roadway, perpendicular to the direction of travel. The first and second marks were 16 inches apart, while the second and third marks were 12 inches apart. Inspection of the propeller revealed chordwise scratching, and that the propeller tips were curled.

The airplane's fuel system was checked, and initially, about 3 ounces of dirty water were drained from the left wing. The fuel from the right wing was blue, and free of water and debris. The fuel boost pump was operated several times with the fuel injector lines disconnected, and the fuel directed into clear jars. The first time, the injector lines produced fuel that was rust-colored, with water in it. Later, the fuel was directed into coffee filters, which resulted in a pink, paraffin-like residue remaining on the filters.

A review of the airplane's maintenance records indicated that the latest annual inspection was completed on April 5, 1999, with a tachometer time of 2598.0 hours. At the time of the accident, the tachometer registered 2600.0 hours. Previous maintenance was performed in November, 1997, at tachometer time 2597.0, and the last previous annual was completed in August, 1993, at tachometer time 2595.0.

When the pilot applied for his most recent FAA Second Class Medical Certificate on June 22, 1998, he stated that he had 9,854 hours of flight time.

An autopsy was conducted on the pilot by the Northern Kentucky Regional Medical Examiners' Office, Fort Thomas, Kentucky. It revealed that, in the opinion of the medical examiner, the pilot "died in acute cardiac failure due to left ventricular hypertrophy of the heart and severe coronary arteriosclerosis with arteriosclerotic heart disease."

Toxicological testing was performed by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and was negative except for atropine detected in the blood.

On May 17, 1999, the airplane was released to the pilot's sister.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.